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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a long problem, but I'll try to make it as brief and clear as possible.

First specifics. I have a rainbird system about 10 years old with about 40 heads broken out into 5 zones. Zone 1 & 2 are on the left side of my home (and closest to the controller) and zones 3, 4 & 5 are on the right side of my home. A few months ago my sprinkler system was acting erratic (sometimes working, sometimes showing failed zones) so I shut it off and ran the system manually by turning the valves for each zone at night. Eventually one zone did not shut off and I realized the issue was a busted solenoid. When I went to replace the unit, I saw another that was leaking as well so I changed both. Tested the controller system again and it started working again so I cheered. But it was short lived as a week later it stopped working again. None of the zones now work with the controller, I have to turn them all manually. I was afraid a recent install (where a pest sprayer drilled ant/termite poison traps near my valves) may have cut a line somewhere. So I went and bought a new controller (in case it was a issue), new wire (since the existing were almost as thin as doorbell wire) and went about rewiring the easy part of my home (the left side nearest the controller). I fed new wire to the 2 solenoids, connected a ground to the common and did the same at the controller. I completely disconnected zones 3-5 since they are on the opposite side of my home and figured I should be sure I got zones 1-2 working before I did a full rewiring. Nothing worked. Using a multimeter I checked the power going into the unit and it was fine. Plus it is a new unit and new wiring. I checked the outlet and it was fine. I checked my main home fuse box and nothing was popped, but I went ahead and reset my entire home and then ran an extension cord from another working outlet (just in case I was missing something like maybe inconsistent power) and the unit still did not activate the sprinklers. So I have a new unit, new wiring, and a working outlet. This all worked with no issue for the first year I was here, but now on my second year it has all failed. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I have replaced all the sprinkler heads and I have no leaks or low pressure, again manual activation works fine.
 

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Sounds like you basically know what you are doing.

So you got a new controller. I assume you checked that power was getting to the controller. Then, I hope you can turn on zone 1 (might not be as trivial as it sounds if it is a different controller than you used to have). And I assume you can put your meter between ground and the zone 1 output (no other wires connected). If the meter says zero, I would have to guess the new controller is a dud.
 

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A "Handy Husband"
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You are throwing parts at the problem instead of trouble shooting the issue. Get a multimeter and learn how to use it. Test the output of the controller and you should get 24 volts on the zone terminal for the running zone. If you get the voltage at the controller test at the zone valve. If you get it at the valve and it still doesn't work, you have a bad valve.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok let me rephrase my original post. I wrote it, as many of us do, when I was about to set a match and light the whole thing up.

So not to mislead anyone, I don't know anything about how sprinklers work. I have never had to install/fix a full system, other than replace heads, reroute/extend water lines, and replace solenoids. The new system I bought has no instructions because it is a "smart" system that just tells me to install the app and no real clarity on how to connect this. So I put matching connections (ie green to green, red to red, etc.) from top of solenoid to the base unit. Then I put the secondary line on the solenoid to a neutral line (I am assuming and hopefully not making that first part out of me) which basically was the black line, going back to the "common" port on the base unit. I am not sure what may have been cut by animals or the tech who was working on my property before so I am just guessing at what the problem is. So if I am starting from scratch, why isn't it turning on? I have lines going directly from the base unit to each solenoid. I know how to use a multimeter and power is flowing through. Is there some other connection?
 

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A "Handy Husband"
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If you are getting 24 volts at the valve and it is not working, the valve is bad.

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If more than one circuit is not working then it is a problem either with the wiring or the controller. Volt meter as was suggested is the way to determine which is the case.

With the sprinklers the soleniod is closed unless their is DC power at which time it opens and allows water to pass through the valve. There is a common ground wire and a separate "powered" line to activate each solenoid by the controller.

In places where I had a possibilty of mechanical or rodent damage to the sprinkler wire for a circuit I have run it inside of PVC irrigation pipe to afford it some measure of protection.
 
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